Growing up I watched and helped my mom with her pickling, from jams and jellies to salsa, relish and pickles. I remember filling the bathtub with cucumbers to wash, peeling the garlic and stuffing the jars. I always think about how pickling has become a lost art. It is so sad that we have gotten so far away from our food that the majority of our generation doesn't know how to store or preserve to eat over the long winter months. Instead we eat "fresh" vegetables imported from around the world all winter.
On the weekend I was lucky to attend my friend Hollie's pickling party. This is the second one that she has hosted this year, and this time I was on the guest list. Hollie and her husband Mike are part of a group of 12 or so people who help out at their friend, Gary Buttrum's family farm. Since taking over the farm, Gary has turned it into a co-op of sorts, trading labour for vegetables.
Last summer there was such an abundance of food, Hollie was giving it away. Generous, but there had to be a better way. This year, determined to extend the bounty throughout the year, she decided to host a pickling party.
So how does a pickling party work? Well, This lovely group of girls get together to preserve their extras from the farm, and learn how to can. It was nice sitting around a big table outside, working together to chop vegetables, peel garlic, stuff jars, eat pizza and have some good conversation.
We made a Zucchini Confetti Relish, and some good old Dill Pickles. Hopefully this will inspire you to either host or attend a pickling party this year.
Zucchini Confetti Relish
(we tripled this recipe)
• 8 cups grated green and yellow zucchini
• 2 cups chopped onion
• 1 cup chopped red pepper
• 1/4 cup pickling salt
• 2 1/2 cups sugar
• 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
• 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
• 1 Tbs celery seed
• 1/2 Tbs coarsely ground black pepper
• 1/2 tsp turmeric
• 2 tsp cornstarch
• 1 Tbs water
Prepare seven 8-ounce preserving jars and lids. (We heated the jars in the oven and boiled the lids and rings)
Mix Zucchini, pepper, onion and salt in a bowl and let stand for 1-2 hours. Rinse thoroughly with cold water and squeeze out excess moisture.
In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, dry mustard, celery seed, pepper and turmeric and bring to a boil, add zucchini mixture, bring back to a boil and then simmer for 25 minutes.
Mix cornstarch and water, add to mixture and cook for another 5 minutes.
Spoon into sterilized jar (leaving 1/4 inch headroom) and seal with lids immediately.
Even if you don't have a farm, or a pickling party to attend, you can still pick up some fresh ingredients at a local market, borrow a book about canning from your library and make some of your own preserves. Not only will you have something interesting to share with friends, but you will have a delicious treat that was made from fresh local ingredients and hasn't traveled further than many people will in their lifetime.